To wear or not to wear - a buoyancy aid

7 June 2006

A sobering story from Mike Blackgrove, a good reminder to consider your own safety when windsurfing:

I took a couple of very high speed falls on the way to the finish and knocked myself about a bit. I've been catapulted many times over the years but never "landed" so hard before. Each time I got up and continued. After crossing the line the wind picked up even more and I headed for the beach rather than try to sail back straight away.

When I eventually sailed back and packed up my kit I thought I must have bruised my side (quite badly - I felt quite sore) but there was no visible sign.

Little did I know then that I was to spend the rest of the week in hospital!

By the time I drove home I was noticing some discomfort. By bed time I realised this was more than a bruise and got Sue to take me to the A&E; at North Hampshire Hospital, Basingstoke.

I was checked out fairly quickly and, as there was still no visible injury, the doctor said he thought I could go home with some pain killers. Just as he was telling me this I went faint so he changed his mind and arranged an X-Ray. That showed no breakage so he called a surgeon to examine me and they admitted me at about 4:00 am for observation. No sleep Monday night.

My blood pressure was very low. After an ultrasound scan on Tuesday they decided I had a fairly serious internal injury so a CT scan was done. As they were not allowing me to eat anything, I guessed they were considering surgery.

Following the CT scan it turns out that I had a 1 pint blood clot, from a bleeding blood vessel - probably a vein. Apparently I am very lucky that I hadn't ruptured one or more of several organs in that area - pancreas, spleen, liver, kidney, etc. That would have needed surgery immediately.

They kept me in until today (Friday) and I got home at 7:00 this evening. In the meantime the bruising had come out and I was dark blue all the way round my left side.

The reason I would like to know the wind speed on the day is that the surgeon who examined me in A&E; is a windsurfer who sails occasionally at Mudeford and he wishes to write up my case. Apparently it is somewhat unusual to receive such internal trauma with no obvious external signs and no cracked ribs. He reckons there may be a lesson in this. Naturally I know it was very windy, but I too would be interested to know the numbers, please - if anyone had chance to take a reading.

I've now got to take it easy for 4-5 weeks - no work for at least the next 2 weeks (sounds fair enough), but no driving for a while and not recommended to go abroad for our windsurfing holiday in 2 weeks (boring).

Still I'm on the mend now and I must remember I'm very lucky I didn't do something much worse!

A lesson for me and perhaps for others - if I'd been wearing my buoyancy aid I might have done no damage at all!

Thanks again to Jay, and the whole UKWA team for another very well run event. Please pass on my thanks to the others when you can.